Where Did the Time Go?!
By Ron Rosenberg
Most days it seems like there's simply too much to get done. And if that's not enough of a challenge, try dealing with interruptions from other people and our own natural tendency to become distracted.
But when there's a deadline, we seem to be able to focus and complete the task at hand. So why not create your own "mini-deadlines" to help you keep focused?
Can a Tomato Hold the Key to Productivity?
You might not think so, but in the 1980s, a management consultant named Francesco Cirillo developed an interesting time-management technique.
Using a small tomato-shaped timer ("pomodoro" is Italian for "tomato") he recommended the following strategy:
- Break your work up into 25-minute blocks
- Set the timer for 25 minutes and begin the first task
- Don't let anything interrupt you during that time
- At the end of 25 minutes, take a five-minute break
- Repeat with the next task
- After completing four blocks, take a 15-minute break
There's a bit more to it than I just explained (you can learn more at pomodorotechnique.com) but the concept is a good one: break down large tasks into smaller pieces, give yourself a deadline, and don't let anything interrupt you.
There are several different tools you can use to track time directly on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. The one I like best is a Windows app called Zamora Time. It's easy to use; it has some helpful reporting tools; and, for maximum effectiveness, it doesn't let you "pause" the timer - if you stop it, you reset the 25-minute timer.
It Works Because It's More Than You're Doing Now!
Will this technique double your productivity the first time you try it? Probably not. But it will help you get more done each day, and this is true for several reasons:
Like all tools, it's not a "magic pill" that will solve all your problems, but I can tell you - from personal experience as someone who is easily distracted - that this method has helped me improve my productivity noticeably, and it might work for you as well.
Why not give it a try!